We completed our first Journey, Welcome to the Flower Garden at the end of our meeting/school year. I tried to wing it for the most part since the story included in the guides isn’t the greatest. It starts out fine (very easy to make it interactive to keep the girls’ attention), but several sessions in, it starts to lose focus. Chapter 5 starts with a snack from Mexico, worms, moves to basil and heirloom tomatoes, briefly touches on honeybees, and ends with a tea party from Japan. How on Earth do you weave that into one cohesive unit? You can’t. Each of those things would be good on their own, but when they’re thrown altogether in a jumble, there’s no main topic to focus on. That chapter is what made me toss the book and try to wing it.
Instead, I centered the Journey on the picture book, the Curious Garden. It’s a simple, relatable story about the impact one young child can have. I split the story into three sections, to read over three meetings (I didn’t want the girls to become bored and restless). The book was a winner with the girls. Journey-wise, I should have made more of an effort to tie it into the meat of the Journey, which focused on gardening in a beautifying sense. Duly noted for the next time I do this.
I did keep elements from the guides since there are some good individual ideas. We planted gardens – the girls teamed up in 2’s and planted some heirloom lettuce. Overall, it was not a success since the lettuces ended up dying. But again, the girls loved planting and taking care of the plants. Next time, I will choose a different veggie, and deeper, sturdier planters.
I also kept the worms since my husband does worm composting.
And I kept some of the games, with varying degrees of success. They weren’t good fits for my troop, but they might be for another. The garden scamper was a hit with the girls, but…..not a hit with me since they all went crazy and had a hard time refocusing on the meeting. Secret garden stuff fell flat since the girls didn’t quite get what they were supposed to do.
TAP-wise, at this age, it’s better to come up with the idea yourself and let the girls fill in the blanks. I asked for ideas initially (I asked the parents too) and no one had any ideas. We planted a small flower garden in a plot the church let us take over, and the girls told me what flowers they wanted to plant.
On the whole, I don’t find Journeys to be horrible. If you have the time and wherewithal to break them down to their basic message, and then build it up again in a way that fits your troop dynamic, they can be valuable. The problem is that they were made to be open-and-go, and unless you want to troop shrink in size to non-existence, you can’t do that. (I’m basing this opinion off of all of the Journeys for Daisies and Brownies, and yes…I have read them all cover to cover).
In bullets, what I did or what I would do in the future:
*Read the Curious Garden
*Plant and take care of mini-gardens
*Tie in both Use Resources Wisely (Green Petal) and Make the World a Better Place (Pink Petal)
*Played Secret Garden Stuff and Garden Scamper
*I chose the TAP, but the girls decided on the details
* Maybe take a field trip to a garden nursery?
*Learned about worms and worm composting
*Learn about ladybugs, possible get some larvae and watch them grow
*Find one or several nice gardening poems (short) to use as the basis for some activities
*Planted a small flower garden at the church
Links to Journey-Related Posts:
3/8 Daisies, Part 1 – Our first foray into a Journey3/8 Daisies, Part 2 – Our first foray into a Journey
3/22/12 Daisies – Part One
4/5/12 Daisy Meeting
Daisies and Worms
Last Daisy Meeting / TAP
I’m tacking this onto the end because it’s a complaint more than anything. I cannot stand the Shel Silverstein poem they used on page 61 of the leader’s guide. It is a slightly bitchy poem and does not fall into the positive girl power message that GS is in general trying to sell. I can’t necessarily explain it, but for whatever reason, the poem just doesn’t sit right with me. There has to be other poems better suited to this Journey.